The chemical company Binney & Smith muddled along during the late 19th century, making shoe polish, printing ink, and stuff. Around the turn of the century, the company began producing art supplies, with particular emphasis on developing a non-toxic crayon for schoolchildren. The Crayola name and crayon first emerged in 1903.
Originally, Crayola produced crayon boxes that held from six to 30 colors. That continued to expand over the years, reaching 52 colors in 1939, and the iconic 64-color box (with sharpener!) in 1958. Now there are 120- and 150-packs, though there are actually 133 colors active in the Crayola palette.
In 1903, the first eight colors were black, brown, orange, violet, blue, green, red, and yellow. How quaint. Today, you can get jazzberry jam, inchworm, mango tango, and wild blue yonder. Of course, you won’t find “flesh” (it’s now peach), “Indian red” (now chestnut), “orange red” or “orange yellow.” We clearly live in a more sensitive (and less orange) world today.
Oh, Crayola had a huge vote in 2000 to have people choose their favorite Crayola colors. The winner is going to shock you. I hope you’re sitting down when you read this. It’s — blue. Wow…